Sociological Images has tons of interesting posts, but I liked this one that describes the essential cultural difference between Australia and NZ. Forget the ethnic makeup, NZ's more Pacific focus, the relative differences in how women are treated (although Australia is catching up, or, NZ is slipping) -- no, the major difference is that people in NZ spend nearly twice as much time a day eating as Australians do (ignore the "correlation" with relative obesity rates on that graph). I knew I liked my leisurely lunches, but I didn't know it was a cultural thing. Heh.
Another cool post on the blog is about a guy called Kasmeneo, who buys his clothing from anywhere in the department store, whether it's menswear or ladieswear. "That’s also my personal statement regarding equal rights - they include the right of clothing choice. What you see here is what I wear everyday, at work, in town, for shopping, whatever." So, he posts about his outfits on his Flickr, but I'll link the the Sociological Images "Rejecting the gender binary in fashion post" that has lots of pics and a discussion. A message, and pretty cute - his style definitely works for him. What else is needed?
On another tangent, about how bodies are represented in the media, the documentary Dreamworlds 3 is an excellent look into how women are portrayed in music videos. While there have always been gratuitous representations of women (and limited ones of men) in music videos, it's gotten progressively worse and worse over time, until I personally can't bear watching music TV these days (not that I have a TV, but you know, gyms and the like). There is a full, but small format and watermarked stream of the doco at the link, and it has some great discussion in it. Definitely worth watching.
And on a more cheerful note, space/time continuum kitteh, and the OMG most hilarious kitteh-pwns-hooman pic evah (I don't check out the Cheezburgers regularly these days, but they've been on a roll these last few weeks).
ETA: Extra bonus YouTubeness in the form of Rick Miller performing Bohemian Rhapsody in the styles of the "25 most annoying (male) voices in the music industry". Hilarious.
Kind of on the topic of Asian food, although Chinese food containers hardly counts, I'm really enjoying the re-invented Tasuke in Civic, which has recently morphed into a ramen bar. The ramen is nice and tasty, although not quite the best I've had, and the side dishes are suitable and yummy. And they still have quite a bit of their old range of food if you want to order something non-noodley. But nothing in the sushi line, as far as I could tell.
Finally, and apropos of nothing at all, except for the random web-reading I've been doing lately, I love Carolyn Hax's advice column in the Washington Post. Here's a random sampling of some of her more recent stuff (from the weekly chats rather than the advice page):
True or false: The partner who cares less about Valentine's Day should be the one who makes the effort to please the one who cares more?
Carolyn Hax: See above. It's actually a versatile little guideline. There's a lot of wiggle room in the way two people might define what's "reasonable," but that's where actually liking each other comes in handy. It's incentive to find the middle.
Washington, D.C.: What's more important in a lasting, long-term, healthy relationship -- love or compatibility? What should be focused on and nurtured?
Carolyn Hax: Both. And probably a half-dozen other things. Your question is like asking what a person needs more, food or sleep--when deprived of either, we die.
Love vs. compatibility: Wait -- can you really "nurture" compatibility? It's my understanding that either you have it or you don't.
Carolyn Hax: Not true. The base has to be there, but a lifetime of decisions can thereafter drive a couple far apart or keep them generally side-by-side, depending on the way those decisions are made.
Alexandria, Va.: People always say that you have to make yourself happy. What goes into that? How does one make themself happy?
Carolyn Hax: Short description of a long process: Figure out the things that make you feel confident/fulfilled/energized; that give you a sense of purpose or accomplishment; that tap into your natural abilities and strengths; and that -don't- put you at the mercy of any one person, and orient your life around those.
Often, this requires another step--concurrently or as a precursor--of reducing the role in your life of things that make you feel worthless/empty/exhausted; that require skills that don't come naturally; that feel like a waste of time; or that put you routinely at the mercy of others.
Midwest: Seriously, is it SO hard for people to call someone they're dating??! I would worry less about not seeing him and more about the fact he can't seem to even ring you to say good night for 1.5 minutes before bed. EVERYONE has 1.5 minutes before bed.
Carolyn Hax: I know it sounds ridiculous, but yes, for some people, it is SO hard. We are not all the same person with the same thoughts, tolerances, comfort zones, priorities, appreciation for gestures, and habits or modes of expression. Some people live by the 1.5 minute call. Some people hate the phone. Some people would be happy to place a 1.5 min call, but know the recipient is incapable of hanging up after just 1.5 min. Some people think they're going to call but want to unwind for 1.5 min first in front of the TV, and then fall asleep in front of Law & Order.
Some people just operate on trust that their feelings are enough, and that means not having to punch an affection clock every day.
This is why compatibility is so important. When it's not there, you have two choices: have the strength to accept someone's differences as part of the deal, or bang your head against the wall wondering why s/he isn't more like you.
She's fab, and I love the way she handles everything from the sublime to the truly ridiculous.
Yes, there are scenes of obscenity and excess in many other places of the world. Yes, there is a horrendous amount of worker abuse and exploitation around the world. Yes, there are plenty of places where a fat overclass live a life of conspicuous consumption and entitlement that makes the rest of us ill to contemplate it. Yes, there is blatant disregard for the environment and policies of raping the land for whatever you can get out of it in many many places. Yes, we all know about the financial houses of cards around the world that many of the glossy buildings and trappings of luxury are tottering on. And yes, compared to many, my life is obscene and excessive in some ways.
However, Dubai, complete with its class of self-satisfied "expat" tax-dodging responsibility-shirking slavemasters (I'm sorry, I can't come up with a kinder concept), just epitomises so many of those repellent things all at once, and in such a concentrated area. Singapore is another place I feel violent distaste for, but at least they don't also suffer from religious hypocrisy and such conspicuous consumption.
Reading the comments in the article is interesting as well. A few people (surprise, surprise, of the expat class) have stuck their heads over the parapet, only to get howled down by others. One even claimed the journalist had made the whole thing up out of whole cloth, because there isn't a "gay club" in Dubai. Hell, if I, a dyke who lives on the other side of the world, know that Dubai is a magnet for gay men in the region who go there because there are places they can hang out, clubs that gay men attend can't be that non-existent. As for the others who go, "Oh, most of the Middle East is worse", I am beyond words. So that makes it acceptable, eh?
That was a reward for finishing my latest and greatest reading review on a journal article called "Why is it so hard to be fair?"
( excerpties )
I love those reasons for not behaving fairly (well, I think they're crap, but it's illuminating. I do sympathise with the last one!). Honestly, that kind of stuff is like throwing me into a lolly shop and saying "Go to it". I've never understood people who say things like "I can't be bothered with politics". The decisions that people make, and that includes the ones they supposedly make on your behalf, directly affect our lives. And knowledge is power.
It's kind of ironic that this Organisational Behaviour class is incredibly stimulating - if hard work - where the Information Systems in Organisations is comparatively meh (although it is interesting background). Of course, the latter isn't helped by a tutor who obviously knows his stuff, but who dithers. Hopefully it'll pick up soon.
- Despite the fact that advances in behavior research have modified our understanding of social hierarchies in wolves, many animal trainers continue to base their training methods on outdated perceptions of dominance theory.
- Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots, and mates. Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to priority access to resources; rather, they are due to accidentalrewarding of the undesirable behavior.
- [In humans] Coercion and force generate passive resistance, tend to require continual pressure and direction from the leader, and are usually not good tactics for getting the best performance from a team. Additionally, those managers who rule through coercive power (the ability to punish) “most often generate resistance which may lead workers to deliberately avoid carrying out instructions or to disobey orders”.
- Leadership is established when a pet owner can consistently set clear limits for behavior and effectively communicate the rules by immediately rewarding the correct behaviors and preventing access to or removing the rewards for
undesirable behaviors before these undesirable behaviors are reinforced. Owners must avoid reinforcing undesirable behaviors and only reinforce the desirable behaviors frequently enough and consistently enough for the good behaviors to become a habit. [easier said than done, of course!]
It's definitely worth a read, and some parallels might also be drawn with other mammals you might be surrounded by, even if you don't have dogs.
The current financial crash was not caused by banks, and the regulations that ensured that banks had sufficient capital did not apply to other financial institutions performing lending and trading functions. So if a financial institution can not reasonably cover themselves, they should not be playing.
Also, completely unrelated, I love the Guardian website. You can sign in with a profile, which doesn't hold any personal data, but which allows you to post comments to many articles and blogs, and, most importantly, allows you to take "clippings" of articles that interest. I have to confess that nearly all of mine are recipes, but it's damned handy having such a convenient reference.
Similar interface to the above, and it's obviously very early days. Lots of tasty food around (not things like grill some cheese on some bread and shake some bacon bits over it, unlike some sites), though.
A slight quibble with the registration, though. The "what gender are you question" is compulsory, which I think is odd on a non-dating site. I contacted the site owner to see why it's there, and to lobby for it to changed to optional, at least. We'll see what happens.
In New York, Philadelphia and Boston, concert-goers have learned to stay awake and applaud politely at compositions by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun. But they do this only because these works tend to be short and not terribly atonal; because they know this is the last time in their lives they'll have to listen to them; and because the orchestra has signed a contract in blood guaranteeing that if everyone holds their nose and eats their vegetables, they'll be rewarded with a great dollop of Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn.I wouldn't even call myself an "average" fan of classical music, and I know sweet f-a about it, but I do get sick of people thinking Nigel Kennedy is an amazing violinist (no, he's an excellent violinist who likes to look like a scruff - ooh, so bold) and that The Four Seasons is the best classical piece evah. He also hasn't much time for the idea that what is weird and outre when it's first invented always becomes old-hat and part of the canon somewhat later. Of course, though, it's often true - Haydn, Beethoven and Stravinsky nearly killed audiences when they first unleashed their stuff on the world - but I'm not there with Stockhausen yet (despite his undoubted influence on music I love), for example, much less Schoenberg.
There are some modern classical pieces that are fab, but do they find their way onto programmes very often? No, the selection is generally "greatest hits" pap (although I do like a lot of the greatest hits) or else it's ostentatiously modernist or "new music", which succeeds in being unrhythmic and atonal. It's similar to what a lot of people think about modern art. Some people are never going to see the point of Pollock, Mondrian, Miro or Rothko. But they have rhythm, form, technique, colour and wit in their works. I personally find Mondrian too square, and I don't like Picasso, but I see what others see in them. I will never see the point of a "multimedia work" which consists of film of a woman cutting herself, with the detritus from the "performance" (blades, needles, scapels, bloody gauze) displayed, and vile music as part of the piece (thank you Tate Modern for forever inflicting that on my brain).
Art (including music) is created to evoke emotion, and sometimes thought. If all it does is evoke the emotions of being pissed off and bored, and thoughts of escape, it may have worked for the artist, but not for me. If a piece has no rhythm, no harmonious sounds and no beginning, middle and end, then it's not going to work for most. Does that mean it has to be in common time and the key of C major? Of course not. Part of what can make a piece interesting is dissonance, unusual tunings and unusual rhythms. Think of how "atonal" (as it used to be characterised) Indian music has influenced modern rock. Does every piece written need to be accessible to everyone? Again, of course not. What works for me most certainly doesn't work for everyone else. But modern composers who whine about "lazy audiences" should get a grip and realise that most people do not like to feel like there is no point to a piece. Sure, there will always be a place for self-indulgent wank, but only appealing to those who like to look cooler than everyone else, who can appreciate a piece on a purely intellectual basis, or who actually find a collection of random sounds worthy in itself is always going to result in limited audiences.
There may be some formula to figure this out - if 5-20% of people listen and say "it's fab" or "it's ok", then there's obviously an exploitable niche there, even if it's not going to be part of classical music's greatest hits. If it's less than 1% saying that - "lazy" or "uneducated" audiences and all - then the appeal is strictly limited. I do think it's important to have that pool of random noise-makers, though, and those who can access them, because they often inspire developments elsewhere. I can't listen to much pure musique concrete (unless it's extremely rhythmic), but I love that element in more tuneful music I listen to. A good quote from the Stockhausen article:
"Think of Stockhausen as a fashion designer who creates clothes in their purest form; clothes made for the catwalk rather than life. These clothes will then be diluted down by another designer and made wearable for the masses."Anyways, in the way of a polemic, Queenan was a little broad in painting his picture - I like some pieces by some of the composers he disparages - Cage, for one (although only one of his, that I know of). And much modern classical music these days is not modernist and/or atonal. One of the Guardian bloggers put up a riposte to the piece, and made some good points (composers like Ravel, Bartok, Britten, Stravinsky et al have most definitely entered the classical canon, but I'd also argue they are at least tuneful - yes, I know, what does that mean? - in the main, thus more accessible). Some interesting remarks are in the comments. I do wish the happy medium of sufficiently challenging, yet sufficiently accessible, were more often achieved in modern classical, or it were better publicised. I admit to probably unjustified wariness when I see a programme that talks about "avant garde" and "challenging". I'll be nipping off to Paul Smith for my wardrobe, then (rather than YSL), while reading this more upbeat piece by Martin Kettle (one of the Guardian classical music reviewers) a few years ago:
The modernist tide has gone out, though parts of western Europe are still mopping up. Even here, though, it is no longer anathema for composers to embrace popularity. The influence of American composers, for whom popularity is not a dirty word, and of composers from national traditions that survived the modernist onslaught (the Argentinian school, for instance) is perhaps a way forward.
Secondly, a piece by George Monbiot in the Grauniad last week, on how small farms are apparently more productive than industrial farms (just ignore the stupid first para on Mugabe).
Though the rich world's governments won't hear it, the issue of whether or not the world will be fed is partly a function of ownership. This reflects an unexpected discovery. It was first made in 1962 by the Nobel economist Amartya Sen, and has since been confirmed by dozens of studies. There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.These small farms, of course, are the entire basis of the fair trade movement - if that didn't exist, how many more apparently less efficient industrial farms would we have? Anyways, interesting food for thought, so to speak.
The most plausible explanation is that small farmers use more labour per hectare than big farmers. Their workforce largely consists of members of their own families, which means that labour costs are lower than on large farms (they don't have to spend money recruiting or supervising workers), while the quality of the work is higher.
Via laputain and BoingBoing (I think), The Black Oven - "Immaculate confections succumbed to northern darkness".
Who can resist such recipe descriptions as:
Frostbitten Molasses Cookies Entombed with Ginger - "Boiled down to its very essence, metal is nothing more than a mixture of molasses and alienation. By that definition, these cookies are black fucking metal. Packed full of grim and evil spices, they will leave you feeling despondent and isolated within their stronghold of flavor." Sounds great!
Le Petit Gâteau des Légions Noires-Traditional cupcakes inspired by untraditional black metal - "In a perfect world everything would be as stark and void of color as these cupcakes. They are baneful in their absolute disdain for your tastelessness, and are true misanthropes as far as baked goods go."
Apparently the Call of the Wintermoon Lemon Curd Cookies are "are best enjoyed while basking in the self-righteousness of your own obscurity". Indeed.
Go and enjoy!
Funnily enough, they've been predicting this for at least the last decade, and it still hasn't happened. Maybe some executives get to work from home, but not the proles, so often. For example, I don't need to be physically at work at all, except to attend meetings. Maybe once in a blue moon, if I need to poke a server that's not online (I don't build the servers, so I don't need to be there for that either). So why do I have to go to work every day? There really isn't a reason. Well, other than air-conditioning, of course.
I can actually see businesses making us work from home when it becomes economically sensible for them to do so. And will we be compensated for the lighting, heating/cooling and so on we use when at home? Of course not. Unless the government starts implementing some strange tax rebate system, which would mean, yet again, a subsidy for businesses to carry out their functions.
This is all entirely apropos, because guess what I'm doing this long weekend? Yep. I still have 2 servers to install Exchange on, users to migrate to three other servers (I migrated 2 yesterday afternoon/evening and today), and, yes, packing to move house. Hey, at least I can do all these things simultaneously when I work from home and have sweet F-A of a holiday, and have to pay for the power I consume. And not have air-conditioning. (Actually, I could go into the office - still no air-conditioning after hours - but, you know, packing.)
Verity Stob sneaks into the rehearsals for Hamlet, soon to be portrayed by the man himself:
Hamlet Our tragedy that threatened to unfold
I have, with Gallifreyan wit, cut short:
By God I'm good! And best of all is last,
(For Russell T hath touched the RSC)
A telegram from Brighton I've just read
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern... are wed!
[Exeunt singing and dancing to 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'.
I've got it set up so that it monitors the mail log for lines which say "REJECT" and an IP address. We reject mail if it's malformed, is coming from a host we block routinely or via an RBL, or if, duh, it's not addressed to anyone valid in our organisation. "Dictionary attacks" will spew mail at randomly-generated addresses for a given domain, and will generally hit the jackpot at some point. But before it hits that jackpot, if a host IP gets three REJECTions within 5 minutes, their network packets are dropped for 10-15 minutes. As far as the spammer is aware, the server has dropped off the intarwebs - their connection doesn't even get as far as the mail server process. The ban is not unlimited, because someone may have just misconfigured their server, and they should have a chance to fix it. However, that 10-15 minutes is enough to stop them from spraying potentially thousands of messages at our servers, and reduces their chances of those 1 in 10,000 jackpots of an actual valid recipient address. It's not just mail-focussed - it can monitor any network service that logs authentication or connection attempts to a log file.
Anyways, the Wikipedia article had nearly been removed last year due to its lack of "notability". Since it's the only tool that works in quite this way, and has been around for a couple of years, it was strange that it was under question. There were a whole pile of links going straight back to the developer's website, though, which isn't particularly a good look. Here's hoping it will not come under fire so much now.
Also, happy birthday epi_lj!
What I also need to do is start posting some content in queerly_open, since I haven't really gotten the ball rolling there yet, and there have been some het-poly assumptions that have given me food for thought lately.
Also today, I reactivated an aborted gym membership (hassles with direct debits got that mucked up) and went and tortured myself a bit today. It was fun. Also, without particularly trying, I've somehow managed to lose about 3 kilos in the last few months. Tai chi is helping, I'm sure, and limiting the amount of eating out I was doing undoubtedly has too. I'm not focussed on weight per se, but I do like feeling strong and somewhat muscular. It's unlikely I'll lose much more weight with exercise - in fact, I'll probably gain it again once I build up a bit (I've hovered around 80kg for the last decade) - but having a bit of sleek definition (if that's not a contradiction in terms) isn't such a bad thing either.
Also regarding tai chi, it has really helped my knee get back into shape. I've been striding along when I walk in almost my old manner. It is still a bit tight around the ligaments down the side and gives me the occasional twinge, but it's much much better.
The interesting thing is that now my knee is getting nicely strengthened, my right ankle is feeling quite a bit more delicate. I've badly sprained it a number of times in the past, and it's part of the reason I fucked my knee in the first place - if I place my foot the wrong way, the ligaments are so lax (and were lax even before the sprains) that I a) don't notice the fact I'm going beyond the point of no return as quickly as most would; and b) recovering from when I do notice is pretty much impossible. If my foot lands even slightly badly, I go over. So, I've been feeling aches and tension in my ankle ligaments, and I'm hoping that means I'm using it better now that my knee is more normal, and the tai chi is doing its thing there too. Fingers crossed!
Also apropos of nothing at all, I finally ripped my Region 2 copy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (more than 3 years since I last watched it, agh), only to find I'd selected the English soundtrack (and the subtitles)! Heh. So wrong! So, another three hours reripping to Mandarin. ::sigh:: My next project is to rip D.E.B.S. (so sue me, I like the occasional cheezy movie), and edit in the sexy scene that got the chop. If anyone wants to check out the somewhat more edgy short that the feature movie was based on, it's here. That is lesbo movie-making and dyke drama that makes me laugh (faults n all).
Oh, and if you want to look at more short movie-making by Angela Robinson - amusing "noir" stuff, although one of the leads annoys me - check out Girltrash. They're 3 minute clips, and it's up to episode 9. There are some fun lines, and Episode 6 with Rose Rollins in the laundromat is priceless. Due to the "bitty" nature of the episodes, it's not exactly high art, but it's pretty fun.
Dear Miss Manners: I am struggling with the invitation list to my child’s confirmation. Some of the potential invitees are members of a “poli” family. The man is married to one woman. They live with a second woman. While I have not ever inquired about their bedding arrangements, I believe she is romantically attached to the wife. There is a third woman who dates the husband but lives elsewhere. [...]
So, are the four of them a package deal? Can I invite the husband and his girlfriend? Just the girlfriend? How do I introduce them to my family?
Gentle Reader: Since you admittedly do not know the bedding arrangements of this interesting assortment, you are spared the temptation of enlivening your child’s confirmation by explaining their relationships to your relatives.
You can invite only the married couple, only their household, only one or both of the single ladies, or the whole group. But in any case, you introduce them by using their names. Miss Manners is sorry if this disappoints you.
Can I say how much I love that woman? I must subscribe to her feed, now she has one (it's always been one of those sites I've dipped in and out of).
Anyways, I've now found the acme of such sites, uselessaccount.com. It does exactly what it says on the tin: "Get an account where the only feature is editing your account". This is what we've all been waiting for!
(Also, please to be ignoring the word "summitted" in the article, referring to how often a certain mountain has been successfully climbed. AGH.)